Some sad news for fans of baseball and the 1993 Phillies NL-pennant winning team.
Beloved Jim Fregosi passed away early this morning his son informed @TracyRingolsby with his family at his side. What a beautiful man.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 14, 2014
Former Phillies manager and all-star shortstop Jim Fregosi has passed away after suffering a stroke on an MLB alumni cruise. The stroke actually occurred last weekend, though news of it broke just today. Fregosi was initially stabilized in a Cayman Islands hospital before being transferred to hospital in Miami earlier this week.
Our thoughts are with Fregosi's family and friends.
Fregosi took over the Phils managerial reins in early 1991 when Nick Leyva was fired after a lackluster 4-9 start. He led the team to a 74-75 record the rest of the way then led the team in their 92-loss 1992 season. The Phillies surprised the baseball world the next season with the pennant winning 1993 team that became the rallying point for the city's baseball fans for the following fifteen years. Fregosi was able to get that team of veterans and misfits, as they used to say, to go from last place in 1992 to the World Series in 1993. Unfortunately for the Phils and Fregosi, that success was short-lived; he managed some dreadful talent on the '94-'96 teams to a combined .451 winning percentage, and was let go as manager at the end of the 1996 season. Fregosi spent the last 13 years working as a scout and assistant to the General Manager for the Atlanta Braves.
As a player Fregosi was actually very good until injuries limited his production after his age 28 season, although he still went on to have an 18-year playing career. In his early years with the Angels he was a well-above league average hitter while playing shortstop. Fregosi received MVP votes every year from age 21 through 28, and is in some pretty good company when it comes to SS fWAR accumulated through age 28. (H/T schmenkman for the stats info here)
Selected names from that list:
As an aside, Fregosi was also the centerpiece of a deal in which the Angels sent him to the Mets for Frank Estrada, Leroy Stanton, Dan Rose, and some kid named Nolan Ryan. Fregosi was well liked among people in and around baseball, and was by all accounts a great story teller. An anecdote from ESPN writer and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:
So many Fregosi memories. In Dodger Stadium one time, a player stuck his head in and shot bull while Fregosi was talking to the beat guys.— Phil Sheridan (@SheridanScribe) February 14, 2014
After player left with a smile, Fregosi said, "Know why I'm a good manager? Because he has no idea how much I hate him."— Phil Sheridan (@SheridanScribe) February 14, 2014
If you'd like to read a thorough biography of Fregosi check out this one by Mark Armour over at SABR.
Again, our thoughts and well-wishes go out to Fregosi's friends and family at this time.